As the Gaza story unfolds on the world stage, the planet is divided, everyone has a say, yet, surprisingly, those who need to have one, are conspicuous in their silence. The plight of Palestinians and the situation in Gaza has left many of us feeling helpless.
As world leaders push for a humanitarian pause in the Israeli strikes on Gaza, the question of a ceasefire is, unfortunately, not a topic on the table anymore. There are those who post daily on the situation, sharing influencers stories, points of views and perspectives. YouTubers are busy serving up stories from both sides of the divide. The debate turns more heated by the day, and although influencers, public figures, historians, geo-political analysts, human rights activists and the UN is speaking up on the humanitarian crisis, those who can actually make a difference – the stake holders, the movers and shakers in our world, the ones in power, stay silent.
It would be correct to say that, the world has given up on the powers that be. Yet, it would also be correct to say, try not to lose hope as we look towards those whose voices have not been silent, to add perspective, create awareness and share the story.
For every child we have lost today, we might be able to save one tomorrow. They only have Hope. Make it count. Don’t take that away from them.
There is a kind of peer pressure on all those who stay neutral or want to have nothing to do with it, to speak up. There is a peer pressure on friends, colleagues, social media influencers, public figures, to have a perspective. After all, the world turns to themselves when the higher powers fail to act.
So here’s the “bare minimum” we can do, as the rest of the world, as people who are not in a position to take decisions and move mountains, forge ceasefires and save lives, yet, people who believe, and who can use their voice to speak up, must believe in the power of ONE!
You are, but one lone person, but here’s how you CAN make a difference.
Not giving up is probably the “bare minimum” that we can do. If there is even one soul still putting up a fight for survival, then we have really no business to, cannot give up. The “bare minimum: that we can do in solidarity to a cause we feel passionately about is:
1. Don’t NOT Have a Perspective
It is important to have a perspective on the issue and for that, one must read up, listen in to podcasts, news from not one, but many news channels, conversations from both sides, so that we stay aware and more importantly, know and develop a point of view that we can own.
Here’s a POV that stands strong – a cactus amidst the desert. Bassem Youssef is an Egyptian heart surgeon turned comedian who turns to his social media handle to channel his thoughts and perspectives on the Palestinian plight
“Wherever you see cactus, know there was a Palestinian village in that place ” .That’s what they tell you if you ever visit the West Bank. Israel has been removing, bulldozing , erasing villages and cities for decades to terraform the land . But the problem is , Cactus keeps growing back . No matter how they try to destroy the land and the soil and build their settlements , cactus keep coming back.
A friend of mine just came back from there carrying a gift for me: Locally squeezed olive oil from a her village in the West Bank . “Forget the commercial stuff you buy from stores. We squeeze oil in our own villages.”
They squeeze the olives on the stone mills, use clean dedicated straw bags to squeeze it on the extruding machines . Same process that has been done for 100,200, 400 maybe 600 years . As old as these trees. You take a product of the land , squeeze it to its limits and you get that pure green gold.
A healing potion of life,
“Just put some oil” is the answer for everything in Palestine. Hungry ? Add oil. A bit sick ? Rub oil. Want to feel better about the world? Oil as old as the earth is there for you. They are not just olive trees. They are family . They are there to feed you , heal you and take care of you. How can you uproot a member of the family and call this land yours ? I have no idea . The trees don’t agree with that . And cactus definitely don’t agree with that. Maybe we got it all wrong! Maybe olive trees are not just an extension of Palestinian heritage. Maybe, Palestinians themselves are an extension of the land . They are like the trees . You can beat them , you can pressure them , you can squeeze them and push them beyond any human limits. But they don’t die . Like crushed olives that produce green gold. And from death, a million lives will be born. And their pain will eventually be the healing potion for all of us.
And if you try to uproot them , they won’t go away . You think they will. But they come back. Like cactus . To defy you , to stand up against you , take your abuse and prick you back. They are there, to stay. Forever”
2. Do Share That Perspective
It could be a news story, an instagram reel, a post, a picture. Share it, spread it and just like that, you will amplify the voices of those who are coherent, have inside perspective on the matter and whose stories you want others to listen to. Very often, our online spaces are filled with overwhelming emotion, rhetoric and a one sided debate. Try to find your space amidst the voices you hear. Whatever resonates with you can be shared.
Queen Rania of Jordan is a lone voice, a public figure, a sane yet compassionate perspective whose opinion the world listens to, here she is, speaking up for the mothers of Palestine on CNN.
In a world exclusive, Queen Rania of Jordan spoke with me about the ongoing bombing of Gaza, civilian deaths, the massacres of October 7, and what she calls “a glaring double standard” in the west’s reaction to all this.
3. Don’t Be A Trigger, (We Have Enough Already), Be Responsible
In an atmosphere where war is on everyone’s mind, we can avoid virtual bloodshed online (there’s enough offline for sure), by being sensitive to the feelings of others. Before you hit the share or post button, ask yourself if your post will add value and create awareness or …trigger emotions. It’s okay to feel angry but channel that emotion to reap benefits for those who need it most, not to enter into a spiral of inflammatory dialogue that won’t leave the world a better place.
Brand boycott is a peaceful yet effective way to register your protest. Necessity is the mother of invention and when all else fails, instead of being disheartened by those who are in power and inactive, you, that is, the rest of the world, ordinary citizens can make a difference by shifting their brand choices. And here’s a fact check to let you know that it CAN make a difference.
In this Fact Check, Al Jazeera’s @khalidmajzoubofficial takes a look at the effectiveness of the campaigns for boycotting brands that support Israel.
4. Do Share Stories Of Those Who Are Helping Out
You can only donate a certain amount of money, or goods. But you can share as much as you like, no price tag on that one. There is some great work being done in Gaza: from photographers, reporters, to social media influencers, share the stories coming out of a war torn region. You might still feel helpless but at least you would have acted in a constructive manner, channeling your helplessness for the greater good.
Photographer Motaz Azaiza has been sharing social media posts and photographs from Gaza. Here he is, appealing for donations through UN Organization UNRWA USA. Follow the page to stay informed.
5. Don’t Shy Away From Conversations, Join A March
If we say no to war, we say yes to conversation and dialogue. Seek positive groups, conversations that aim at finding solutions, or merely, staying informed. Ask questions if you’re unsure about the history of the region. One perspective is not enough. The Middle East is a very complex mix of historical, religious and geographical date, hence, form your own perspective and listen to all sides. If nothing else, you will emerge as a more informed person – the key to doing your part on the planet. Ignorance is not a choice anymore.
Citizens all over the world are marching for the Palestinian cause. Join a protest near you and engage in dialogue to mark your stance and help spread awareness
6. Do Pray
Still feeling helpless? Pray. Prayers give us time to reflect, to hand to a greater power, what we do not have the power to change ourselves. Think of all the people who are suffering in the world today, persecuted communities, those who have lost their loved ones, inhabit war torn territories and who are not as fortunate as many of us living in a free land. Pray that they too, get reprieve.
7. Do Practice Gratitude
From prayer comes gratitude. Be thankful for what you have and pray that others get peace too. The luxury to live in a free land, free from persecution, safe from war and near our loved ones, is a blessing indeed. Don’t ever forget that and be thankful for every morning you watch the sunset, that you are alive and well. Pray for the same for others.
And if those who hold great power in this world fail to do more than the “bare minimum”, let’s take a long hard look at ourselves – there is a bare minimum we can expect ourselves to do in a world that is increasingly filled with turmoil, uncertainty and war. The plight of the Palestinians and the Israel-Palestine conflict has revealed deep seated divisions between our moral, political and social fabric. Are we prejudiced? Do we lean towards a certain historical perspective? You bet we do.
It is hard to accept the other side, when we struggle to point out a wrong that those in power negate daily. Calling a spade a spade was never so hard! Yet, we must revert to the wisdom passed down through the ages: Change what you can, accept what you can’t and be wise enough to know the difference! Yet, having said that, there is a lot that you can change, just believe in the power of one – it’s all a matter of perspective.